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Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

We Shall Never Surrender

Wisdom in contending with wickedness wherever it is found

Proverbs 28:4 

4 Those who forsake the law praise the wicked,
    But such as keep the law contend with them.


On June 5, 1940, the Guardian newspaper printed an account of a speech delivered by Prime Minister Winston Churchill just that morning: 

The House of Commons, at the time of writing, is still trying to adjust itself to one of the gravest speeches ever made to it in all its long history.–Guardian, June 5, 1940

For readers on that summer evening, such a headline would have seemed puzzling. Londoners were aware of the tremendous struggle going on across the English Channel. The German Blitzkrieg had thundered across the Netherlands, Belgium, and into France. 

For many in Europe, “the lamps were going out,” however the English people were jubilant: they had just witnessed the “miracle” of Dunkirk. Over 300,000 Allied soldiers had been evacuated in an incredible rescue mission and the public was ecstatic. 

The British people had yet to experience the “Blitz” of the bombing of London, the Battle of Britain, or the horrors of nearly five more years of war to come. As Nazi forces were now poised at their very door, Churchill knew that celebration was not only premature, it was deadly. Victories were not won by evacuations, he said, “no; this is a colossal military disaster.” 

Churchill’s speech to the House of Commons that day outlined the reasons why: defeats across the map, a shortage of men and materiel, and a hope that would quickly fade. The question seemed to be not if England would surrender to the enemy, but when. 

This could not be allowed to happen: 

Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. 

We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender. 

And even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God's good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the Old.–Winston Churchill, June 4, 1940 House of Commons

[Check out a dramatization of this speech in a clip of the movie "Darkest Hour" HERE

Churchill’s speech was met with approval and served to help galvanize a nation to resist the tide of evil. But it was sobering news indeed.

Solomon understands well the need to resist evil at all costs, and on all fronts. In chapter 28 of Proverbs, he lays out a proverb filled with contrasts: those who accept and even celebrate wickedness—and those who not only resist it, they pursue righteousness:

4 Those who forsake the law praise the wicked,
    But such as keep the law contend with them.–Proverbs 28:4

Do you feel that you are always navigating in “gray areas” as you move through your life? You study the Bible, pray, and attend worship, and in all of these pursuits it seems that issues are “black and white” as you receive instruction on right and wrong. 

However, following God’s will in this world does not always seem so easy. The moment you step outside your church doors you can feel as if you are engulfed in a fog of indecision. There can be a difference between confirming something as simple as the principle that God created two sexes, male and female, and dealing with your neighbor who tells you happily that her son has decided to become a woman.  

What do you do? You can give the “church answer” and feel that you may risk your neighbor’s friendship as she perceives your Biblical wisdom as rejection or even a threat. Or you can smile politely and say a few nice, non-committal things and then feel a pang of guilt and failure as your neighbor perceives that you too support her son’s terrible, sinful decision.

The problem is that you and I are called to be salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16) in a world that prefers dark, flavorless sin and death. Salt and light are dynamic and transforming by nature—and when they are applied to your relationships they cannot help but have an effect. 

It can be difficult to present Christ in both a loving and yet uncompromising way. The key comes in understanding who Jesus is, and how high the stakes truly are. 

In warning against “those who forsake the law,” Solomon is speaking of more than those who simply reject God. He is revealing that to reject God’s moral law and His divine wisdom is to “praise the wicked.” In other words, there really are no “gray areas” when it comes to sin and rebellion, there is only the pursuit of righteousness or the celebration of evil, as the Psalmist sings:

3 For the wicked boasts of his heart’s desire;
He blesses the greedy and renounces the Lord.–Psalm 10:3

People praise what they admire—and call upon others to do the same. As someone will praise a godly act of compassion, they may also praise an act of rebellion against God’s decrees a “bold statement of individuality.” In doing this, they are in danger of being given over to their sinfulness, as Paul describes man’s natural rebellious state in Romans: 

28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting;–Romans 1:28

It is one thing to witness a world that revels in its sin and selfishness, and another to be timidly swept along in an attempt to stand on the sidelines. For those in their sin inevitably will call on others to approve and celebrate their practices—and those who do are also held to account:

32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.–Romans 1:32

In the life and death struggle of eternity, there are no sidelines or innocent bystanders. Long ago, the prophet Elijah drew just such a line in the sand when he confronted Israel in their rebellious pursuit of idols:

18 And he answered, “I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father’s house have, in that you have forsaken the commandments of the Lord and have followed the Baals.–I Kings 18:18

Elijah was risking more than a losing friendly relationship with a neighbor or the possibility of being called “bigot,” he was risking his very life. And yet he took a stand and obeyed God’s command. In doing so, he turned the tables on the paradigm. Instead of walking a fine line or threading a needle of politeness and logic, the prophet reminded the people reveling in their sin that they were the ones facing a choice:

21 And Elijah came to all the people, and said, “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people answered him not a word.–I Kings 18:21

Do you see? In a sinful world where you are called to move in and out of twilight scenes witnessing its celebrations of perversity and at times being sought for approval of those who do so, you must never forget that you are a light bearer! The the darkness cannot abide the light of Christ. As Paul exhorts the young church in Ephesus, a city famous for its practices of magic and superstition: 

11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret.–Ephesians 5:11-12

Does all of this seem to difficult to bear? It is not pleasant to be reminded that the world around you is in a life-and-death struggle and that sides must be chosen and battles won. Often it seems that Christians simply want to talk and complain about the wickedness that they see. We shake our heads and blame a politicians, a decadent entertainment industry, and even subversive foreign cabals.  

But the battle is always spiritual. Commentator Bruce Waltke urges you to see it positively, and consider your role in light of a warrior, tested and worthy for the battle that you are called to fight: 

One’s spiritual mettle can be tested by whom one praises or strives against.–Bruce Waltke, “Proverbs”

In order to expose sin, you will need to know and understand what it means to live in righteousness. This is the contrast that Solomon sets against the wicked in verse 4: those who keep the law contend with them. In other words, you are called to pursue thorough knowledge and understanding of how Jesus calls you to live—and seek to be intimately close to Him as your Lord and Savior. 

This means that you must know Jesus and what it means that you are safe and fast in Him through the Holy Spirit. Pray to Him, seek His counsel and guidance, and more importantly, seek to be Christ to those around you.  

After he concluded his speech and the thunderous applause in the House of Commons rang in his ears, Churchill thought of his sobering assessment of his nation’s strength: they were short of ships, short of aircraft, and it small, exhausted army was short of men. He supposedly turned and whispered to a colleague: “And we’ll fight them with the butt ends of broken beer bottles because that’s bloody well all we’ve got!”

You are a warrior in a far more serious conflict than even World War II, for you are engaged in a cosmic battle that spans from the universe—to the inmost reaches of the heart. You too, will “never surrender,” but not because your cause is just. You will never surrender because the battle is already won! 

Christ, crucified, arose, as Michael Card sings in his wonderful song:

Love crucified, arose
The Risen One in splendor
Jehovah's soul Defender
Has won the victory

Love crucified, arose
And the grave became a place of hope
For the heart that sin and sorrow broke
Is beating once again  

Jesus has kept His Father’s commandments, and so you fulfill His law of love when you show His love to others (John 15:9-17). This may mean that you will need to take a gentle, but firm stand to your neighbor, friend, co-worker, or even a family member when you are called to celebrate perversity with them. 

If doing so is easy to you—then your challenge is to do so in a loving manner, avoiding insults and harshness. If you are non-confrontational and tempted to meekly avoid conflict, you must do so lovingly, making sure that your biblical convictions are just as clear as your love for them as a person.

In the end, someone coming to you for approval of their sin may actually be looking for you to “show your mettle,” and reveal yourself as someone with whom they may make a stand—a beacon of light in the darkness of their life.  

Above all else, know this: that Christ has won the battle and He is fighting with and for you each day of your life that is spent this side of heaven! 

Knowing this, that victory is held strongly in Christ’s nail-scarred hands, how can you possibly surrender?



The Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay and this Saturday Deep is written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

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